Receiving is the New Giving
Let’s face it, I don’t take compliments well. If you know me, you are in strong agreement with that statement. I could get into a lot of brain science, childhood psychology and a treatise on race in America about the cause of it, but that’s really all irrelevant.
Yes, irrelevant, because what got clear to me in our community call yesterday, Receiving is the New Giving, is that compliments are gifts; gifts from family, friends and yes even strangers. They may reflect more of the giver’s inner world than my outer world, yet a gift they are.
My modus operandi is to deflect or minimize a compliment. I look away and say vague things like “No problem,” or “Really?” Or I can get really specific and not so nice, and say things like, “No I’m not.” “No, you’re wrong.” And my husband’s favorite: “Because you married me, your opinion does not count. So I flat out reject or ignore what you just said.”
Essentially I ignore and diminish all compliments.
The funny thing is I seek approval like all human beings. I want people to say, “Gina, you did a great job with this project or with this client.” Or, “this Christmas dinner was great.” Or, “these waffles are the best I have ever had.” Yet, these are compliments on my terms. Safe and appropriate words that I can handle. Yet when I don’t get these specific accolades, then I can actually feel neglected. However, the sad part of my practice of deflection and my ah-ha moment from the call was how much pain this practice causes my friends and family.
On the community call, many people shared what it’s like to have gifts rejected in some way. And what started off as a gesture of generosity or love can quickly de-evolve to recrimination, second-guessing and critical judgment. I am clear when I, and I suspect all of us, reject even the smallest of gifts from a compliment to a box of strawberries to unlimited use of a compost turner, to larger gifts of help and support during illness, loss or bad luck – we are embracing scarcity. I am picking up the weapons of doubt, resistance, contraction and even maybe shame in these moments.
When we allow ourselves to receive, truly embrace all that is given to us, from receiving food at a restaurant to having our trash removed from our curb, to compliments of beauty, brilliance or capacity, then we can experience exquisite sufficiency, resting in our interdependence and maybe knowing we are truly enough.